By Steve Hubrecht

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The Invermere campus of College of the Rockies (COTR) played host to a great cultural exchange last week. 

A group of college teachers from Kenya’s Maasai Mara region were in the Columbia Valley as part of an exchange program between College of the Rockies, Ontario-based Georgian College and Maasai Mara Technical and Vocational College in Kenya.

A total of four teachers and instructors from Kenya — Simon Musunkui, Kevin Shukuru, Rahab Nyambura, and Derrick Kabaya — arrived in the East Kootenay early last week. By Friday, Sept. 22 the group was in Invermere, where they gave a presentation to students in the local hospitality management program. 

The Kenyan visitors began the presentation in lively style, by dancing to a song by Samburu musician Laiso Boy. With infectious enthusiasm, the Kenyan teachers soon had literally all of the local hospitality students (and most of the COTR staff present) up at the front of the room joining in the dance. 

Cranbrook-based COTR international program and partnerships manager Kerry Brinkert told the Pioneer that this exchange was part of a three-year partnership in which COTR and Georgian College have been helping Maasai Mara Technical and Vocational College develop a new program called ‘Tour Guide’. 

The partnership is now in its second year, and the first Kenyan students began in the ‘Tour Guide’ program at Maasai Mara this September. There have been several exchanges already in which COTR or Georgian College staff went to Kenya. This is the first to have Kenyan Maasai Mara staff come to Canada.

“It’s been great,” said Brinkert. “The purpose is for the teachers and instructors from Kenya to come see how tourism and tourism training works in our region . . . it’s been very interesting. Our education system is in many ways very different from the Kenyan system, so there’s a lot of opportunity for both sides to learn from each other.”

By the time this issue of the Pioneer hits newsstands the Kenyan teachers and instructors will be in Ontario where they will spend several days at Georgian College and surrounding area, learning about the tourism industry and about tourism training there, before heading back home.

(Photo by Steve Hubrecht)